Palero Tata Rodriguez is your guide through this exploration of Palo Kimbisa, an Afro-Cuban religion where nothing is as it seems: elements of nature become spirits that speak to the Tata and initiates, clay pots become miniature sacred groves, and a chef becomes a Tata—a counselor, protector, and teacher. Palo goddaughter Sophia Kelly Shultz experiences and relates Tata Rodriguez’s practices through anecdotes, firsthand accounts, and exquisite pen-and-ink illustrations. Special passages bring life to concepts represented by each Spirit; others highlight important facets of the palero’s beliefs and practices. Stories invite anyone, from future initiates to those who simply wish to know more about this religion, to get a feel for the rules and practicalities—and the magic—of Palo.
Not quite an itinerant preacher, peripatetic palero Tata Rodriguez was initiated into Palo at the age of 16 and became a practitioner at the age of 21. Now, decades later, he moves his family hub as work, housing, and/or the Spirits dictate, and has godchildren in many parts of the United States, including Texas, New York, and West Virginia. He currently lives in Florida, where, when not working as a chef or with the Spirits (or both), he enjoys fishing and painting. Itinerant author and artist Sophia Kelly Shultz, has been working as a professional artist since the 1980s. She is best known for paintings like “Holie’s Green Man,” a painting featured in the Stone Circle Oracle. She is also an award-winning quilter, needleworker, and costumer. She lives in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, with her extremely patient husband of 31 years, David.

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